CARLSBAD, Calif. (Border Report) — There were a lot of long stares and double-takes Tuesday on Tamarack Beach, about 50 miles north of the U.S-Mexico border.

Wearing medical masks and cowboy hats, members of the Border Patrol’s Horse Patrol Unit stunned beachgoers as they rode along the California coastline, something most people had never seen before.

“The reason the Border Patrol unit is up here on Tamarack Beach today is to prevent and monitor smuggling — this is a high visibility operation,” Agent Jarrett Decker said.

Decker said since last year, agents have been seeing more and more small boats landing on California beaches loaded with drugs, undocumented migrants or both.

The Border Patrol has recorded 137 events since October leading to 537 arrests and the confiscation of 6,642 pounds of illegal substances.

“This is becoming a lot more predominant, the biggest thing is how dangerous this really is,” Decker said. “Any time you enter the Pacific Ocean, there are dangerous currents, big waves and storms at times. A lot of these boats are not seaworthy, individuals may or may not be good swimmers, they may not have life jackets or proper safety equipment on these boats.”

This small boat was discovered on San Diego’s Pacific Beach in September of ’08. The U.S. Border Patrol said the vessel was used to smuggle undocumented migrants. (San Diego Lifeguard Service)

Decker said the Border Patrol is making it a point to be more vigilant along the coastline and that the horse patrols give agents an edge.

“Animals have very good sensors to dangers and they help us through our enforcement actions,” said Decker. “The Border Patrol has always used horses, they have a low impact on the environment and can get into difficult terrain.”

One thing Decker wanted Border Report to emphasize to the public is that his fellow agents are not there to enforce and/or oversee COVID-19 restrictions at beaches and other public places along the coastline.

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